Somatic Experiencing and Food Cravings
The best way I have come to understand trauma is through the healing technique of Somatic Experiencing. I find it difficult to talk about an issue without a solution at hand, so for the sake of this post, I would like to speak about trauma from a healing perspective. Somatic Experiencing is a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems. Somatic Experiencing is the focus on perceived body sensations to bring awareness to the stuck energy in the body after a trauma, and then the release of physical tension through a healing process that safely allows the client to explore how that event is still harbored in the body.
In a few words, somatic experiencing is the body not completing the act of the stress response, which results in a static state of non-discharge. Then as one goes through life, different circumstances or situations, even mildly threatening, can trigger old wounds (trauma) and dysfunction. Once one gets into a somewhat comfortable environment he or she begins to subconsciously want to discharge this stale energy, but doesn't know how. This is where the process of somatic experiencing helps ones healthfully release that past energy.
From working with people and their relationship with food, I have seen some of these somatic expressions show up in the jaw as: clenching, biting, gnawing, and tightening. However, the person is usually distracted by the food craving and does not notice how these may be signs of somatically being stuck in the flight response.
When humans get “stressed” and don’t have a healthy survival response in place they may have one of their distractive mechanisms pop up; like food, alcohol, or drug cravings, negative behaviors, or even destructive patterns. This becomes a way to release this stored energy, but typically leaves them even more stressed than before. It is my mission to bring awareness to the connection between irrational food cravings and past stored energy in the body, to help people see how our food cravings or negative patterns have deeper messages to help us uncover information that the food cravings could be stimulating and then trying to release through the jaw.
Whether it is sucking, chewing, biting, grinding, or creamy, crunchy, sweet or salty, all food cravings can lead us to an emotionally introspective place that can help us relieve this tension without running to food.